Paul R. Lehman, Police unions try to control department culture which can create problemsSeptember 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Baltimore, Bigotry in America, Breaking Ranks, chicago, Colin Kaepernick, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Ferguson, Football, justice, law, law enforcement agencies, liberty, Norm Stamper, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, protest, race, social justice system, The U.S. Constitution | Leave a comment
Tags: 49ers, African Americans, American History, Citizen rights, Civil Rights, Colin Kaepernick, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, NFL, Norm Stamper, Obama and American Bigotry, Police Chief, Prejudice, San Francisco, Santa Clara, The AP, the Constitution, The Oklahoman, Union Leaders
The time has come for Americans to take a look at the arrogance, ignorance, and bigotry exhibited by members of the law enforcement establishment, in particular, the police union representatives. Santa Clara Police union and Police Chief differ on their responsibility: “The Santa Clara police chief has vowed to continue providing a safe environment at San Francisco home games after the union representing his officers threatened to boycott policing the stadium if the San Francisco 49ers don’t discipline Colin Kaepernick for criticizing police and refusing to stand during the national anthem.” (AP 9-4-2016) The union took the first action relative to Kaepernick’s protest by sending a letter to the 49ers.
The police chief understands and accepts Kaepernick’s Constitutional right to protest: “As distasteful as his actions are, these actions are protected by the Constitution. Police officers are here to protect the rights of every person, even if we disagree with their actions.” On the other hand, the union representatives letter requested that action is taken against Kaepernick or else “it could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities.”The union does not work for the city, the chief does.
If we were to go back and examine each of the cases of African Americans being killed or treated unjustly by law enforcement agents in cities like Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, etc…, we would also find a representative of their union stepping into the situation and doing a number of irrational things in favor of their officers. First, the union wants to separate the victims from the officers by underscoring the dangers involved in police work and the obvious disregard for the law by the victims. A picture of the police officers is painted of them being above the law and not worthy of criticism by the victims or the public; they are held as sacrosanct.
Once this picture of the police officers is presented, the union then attempts to turn the victim into the villain by checking to see if he or she has a police record that can be used to vilify him or her to the public. Although any information on a victim’s record might not be pertinent to the incident in question, if it will cast a negative image of the victim, it will be used. The objective is to question the worthiness of the victim or the public to challenge the character of the police and turn the process of the public having to choose the “good guys,” police, over the ”bad guys,” the victims. In any event, any aspersions cast upon the police officers are taken as criticism against the entire law enforcement establishment with no middle ground. The union knows that in the past, most people believed the police over the victim.
With Kaepernick’s protest, the union had already decided that he was wrong and a villain to the point that if nothing was done by the 49ers organization to punish him, his entire team would suffer as well as all the people associated with their home games. The union totally disregarded Kaepernick’s Constitutional right to protest in the manner he chose and because they did not approve of it, it was unacceptable. Fortunately, the police chief used better judgment and knowledge of the law to handle the situation. The chief’s letter probably did not sit well with the union because it took away the union’s power to instill fear in and to coerce victims of police misdeeds.
At times it seems that the union representative wants to take charge of any negative situation involving police officers and usurp the powers of the chief. For example, in Oklahoma City, the question of how police body cameras are to be used has caused some disagreement between the union representative and the chief. The union wants the police to have total control of the pictures recorded by these cameras—what is seen and by whom. The chief disagrees with that notion because the public would argue the benefits of the cameras if the pictures could be censured by the officer before, during and after a police action. The concept of transparency would be lost if the pictures could be altered before anyone other than the police could see them. No decision has been made in this case and because no decision has been made, the cameras are not being worn.
Often what the union representative does is to try and convince the public to believe the opposite of what he accuses a victim of during—painting everyone with one brush. For example, when a person accuses an officer of wrong-doing, the emphasis is on that officer, but the union tries to spin the story to make it appear that the entire police department or all law enforcement agencies are being indicted. Using this tactic the union can create an “us” versus “them” scenario with “us” being the good guys, and “them” being the crooks. A quick reference to the union’s letter to the 49ers underscores that point. According to the AP article, “the police union complained that Kaepernick’s ‘inappropriate behavior’ has ‘threatened our harmonious working relationship.’”The letter seeks to make Kaepernick the outsider –crook and the police the good guys. Fortunately, the police chief did not allow his power to be usurped by the union this time.
In his book, Breaking Rank, Norm Stamper commented on police unions as I noted in my book: “Police unions represent a problem for social change in America because they have been able to manipulate the system of [European American] white supremacy…they usually oppose any changes in their operation not introduced by themselves and complain when any criticism is directed toward them….If any questions are raised concerning the actions of officers, the union usually accuse the party asking the question of being anti-police.”According to Stamper, the unions usually try to control the culture of the police departments (The System of European American (white) Supremacy and African American (black) Inferiority).
The fact that the Santa Clara Police Union decided that Kaepernick’s behavior was inappropriate and that some corrective action had to be taken shows the arrogance of the union. They used their position and standing in the community to make a value judgment against someone who had done no wrong. They showed their ignorance in sending a letter to the 49ers making a threat for some corrective action against Kaepernick before they checked to see if a law was broken or an offense committed. Although the question of Kaepernick’s ethnicity was not mentioned, his protest involved the treatment of African Americans and people of color by law enforcement. The union took offense to his protest.
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Dr. Paul Lehman